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'VIDEO WITNESSES' A NEW SLANT ON NEWS

In his book "Amusing Ourselves to Death," Neil Postman says that the nightly TV news is "news as pure entertainment." It is not only fragmented news -- the 45-second bite -- but news "without context, without consequences, without value." Hallwalls' upcoming program "Video Witnesses, A Festival of New Journalism" may be the first comprehensive examination of a new and growing kind of video journalism mostly perpetuated by amateur "news hounds" and alternative newscasts. The individuals behind these grass-roots efforts, often using primitive equipment, offer new perspectives on local and global events. Submissions to the festival -- some 90 tapes in all -- come from this country, Canada, China and Central and South America. The series will begin next Friday evening at 7:30 with highlights from the festival. An opening reception for a major video installation by Shu Lea Cheang titled "Making News/Making History: Live from Tiananmen Square" will be held that same night at 10. It chronicles firsthand the events and the media battles that unfolded last spring in Beijing. On Feb. 3 at 8 p.m., John Walden will present "Paper Tiger Television." A panel discussion on recent developments in electronic journalism, featuring Walden, Tony Conrad, Octavia Hudson and Shu Lea, will be presented on Feb. 4 from 2 to 5 p.m. The festival, coordinated by Hallwalls video curator Barbara Lattanzi, continues Feb 5 to 8. -- Richard Huntington

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